Stocks Surge, Dollar Slips
TOKYO (AP) _ Tokyo share prices surged today, buoyed by expectations for passage soon of Japan’s long-awaited political reform bills. The dollar slipped against the yen for the fourth consecutive session.
The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selected issues rose 524.85 points, or 2.83 percent, closing at 19,039.40. On Tuesday, the Nikkei had fallen 210.82 points, or 1.13 percent, to 18,514.55.
″A clear direction in political reform improved sentiment greatly,″ said Akio Okamura, an analyst with Nikko Securities, referring to expectations that the government now can shift full attention to Japan’s economic woes.
The coalition government and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party were meeting today about compromises that could lead to passage of political reform bills by the end of Parliament’s current session on Jan. 29. Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa has promised steps aimed at halting a long string of corruption scandals.
The Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section gained 29.76 points, or 1.97 percent, to 1,541.15. It had lost 4.52 points, or 0.30 percent, to 1,511.39 the previous day.
An estimated 400 million shares changed hands on the first section, up from Tuesday’s 285 million. Advances outnumbered declines 933 to 136, with 102 issues unchanged.
Meanwhile, the dollar closed at 110.77 yen, down 0.28 yen from Tuesday’s close but little changed from its overnight New York finish of 110.76 yen.
It now has fallen 1.53 yen in the last four trading days.
After opening at 110.93 yen, it ranged between 110.73 yen and 111.08 yen.
The dollar has been sinking on expectations that the United States will press for a stronger yen to help reduce its huge deficit in trade with Japan.
Local news reports said U.S. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen would stop over in Tokyo over the weekend to discuss stalled trade talks with Japanese officials.
A stronger yen makes Japanese exports more expensive and less competitive abroad, while making imports cheaper in Japan. Japan’s trade surplus with the United States totaled $50 billion last year.
The price of the benchmark No. 157 Japanese government bonds closed at 107.51 yen, down 0.23 yen from Tuesday’s close. The yield rose by 0.030 percentage point to 3.440 percent.